Why the Kurdish Claim to Statehood is Questionable
in Naveed Ahmad Tahir, ed, 'Humanitarian', Preemptive, Punitive and Political Intervention and State Sovereignty: Varying Political, Moral and Legal Standpoints
(Karachi: Area Study Centre for Europe, 2010), pp 65-80
The world’s nearly 30 million Kurds may claim to be a distinct nation deserving a state, but the dilemma they confront is unique: They live in four Middle Eastern countries, including Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria. With the exception of northern Iraq, where the Kurdish minority has been to create self-governing institutions since the 1991 Gulf War, the other three countries jealously guard their national sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Kurdish claim of being a persecuted minority in Middle Eastern states which emerged in their current form after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire may be justified. Yet when it comes to granting Kurds the right to statehood, the international community cannot do anything except to expect Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria to become more liberal and democratic overtime and, consequently, absorb and assimilate their respective Kurdish populations. Besides discussing such future possibilities for solving the Kurdish problem, the chapter attempts to answer why international preference for preserving territorial integrity of the four Middle Eastern countries is a major factor impeding the Kurdish quest for independence. The study also points to a host of internal social and political divisions among the Kurds, even within a single country, which has caused violent conflict among them and led to their failure to produce a charismatic national leader who can unite a disparate population living across regional state frontiers. After critically reviewing other national, regional and international factors that seriously impinge upon the Kurdish right to freedom, the chapter concludes by arguing that guaranteeing national sovereignty and preserving territorial integrity of four important countries of the Middle East is far more crucial a goal than realizing the Kurdish right to statehood. Full Text